Investigation of increased productivity of a hoop house through better use of space

Project Overview

FNE08-632
Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2008: $3,564.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Kurg Forman
Clear View Farm

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Vegetables: greens (leafy), peas (culinary)

Practices

  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance
  • Energy: energy use
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives, feasibility study
  • Pest Management: biological control, field monitoring/scouting
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    High tunnels are expensive to build and maintain, and getting the most out of the space available is one way to protect investment. The farmer will install a cable and winch system in an existing hoop house to allow for crops to be grown on more than one level; beds will be raised and lowered to allow of management and harvest. Crop yields from different levels will be compared, and also compared with crops grown outdoors; outreach will be through a field day and extension events.

    Kurt Forman, Clearview Farm owner-operator, and Robert Hadad, Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Vegetable Specialist, have designed and built the system; Kurt is growing the crops day to day. Robert consults and scouts plant progress and pests. Kurt and Robert take data on days to harvest, marketable yields, sales, and costs of production and profitability. Both will look at overall design efficiency and updates.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Methodology

    Our first step will be designing the upper level hoophouse system. We shall investigate gutter design, the size and number of gutters to implement, suspension options, irrigation, and fertilization techniques – drip tape and fertilizer injection – how to set it all up and rates, how to raise and lower gutters. We will decide on a soil type to use in the gutters and the amount (about 2.25 cu. ft.) and the source of soil. I wish to focus on ground cherry production, because putting the plants up in the air would allow me to harvest them in a less difficult manner, by means of collection netting under the plants. We also intend to investigate the merit of growing other crops, like dwarf sugar snap, Asian greens, and lettuce. We expect to use the gutters for early and late-season greens, cilantro, lettuce, and peas, as well as early- main -late season for the ground cherry plants, using at least 5 gutters with 30 plants and compare this with some grown outside. We may interplant the ground cherries with lettuce early. We will monitor water usage and fertility, as well as pests and disease management. We will also observe teh effect of the trough system on the plants underneat them.

    The gutter system envisioned will be 10 ft lengths of ready-made vinyl rain gutters or plastic pipe wiht end caps. If needed, these will be secured onto 10 ft X 2×4 inch dimensional lumber boards to provide rigidity using wire. Holes will be drilled into the sides of the gutters to allow for drainage. The hoophouse runs east to west so the gutters will be hung north to south. I will plant my high-value market crops of heirloom tomatoes, eggplants, and melons under the gutters. The gutters will be hung suspended from the metal structure of the hoophouse using steel or plastic cable running pulleys to a pipe, which will be moved by a cable attached to a winch, so the gutters can be lowered for easier access.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.